Civic-Minded Professional: Natali Justiniano-Pahl

Justiano PahlNatali Justiniano-Pahl has two business cards. The traditional card lists her job title, while the other says “Community Leader.” This symbolizes her commitment to community and the value she places on community experiences in her life and career.

“Each phase of my life has offered different opportunities and ways of giving back,” said Justiniano-Pahl, who started volunteering alongside her family and then became involved in managing local parks, mentoring children, and, eventually, teaching business skills to high school students. She has become an active member serving on community boards, including the United Way.

“These opportunities have really allowed me to understand the diversity of our community and build leadership and change-management skills,” she said. “I use skills I use in my job and they are transferable to the skills needed by these organizations.”

Justiniano-Pahl is currently Assistant Vice President, Human Resources-Talent Acquisition, Development, and Diversity & Inclusion at Principal. She has 24 years of experience working in human resources for four Fortune 500 companies. She estimates she volunteers over 100 hours a year and is also working on getting Principal employee’s more involved in the community as a way to build their skills, too.

“We offer paid time off for employees to volunteer,” she said. “And we’re starting to think about it more as professional development more than ever before.”

It’s a connection she also makes in guiding hiring decisions and policy. Students that are involved on their campuses and in their communities stand out.

“Skills are highly transferable and enhanced by community experience,” said Justiniano-Pahl. “Community involvement is an area outside of classes where we can get a view of what potential employees are able to do with the skills they are learning.”

In hiring and developing employees, Justiniano-Pahl has observed that those with past community experiences tend to have increased collaboration and communication skills, the ability to inspire and motivate others to be their best, negotiation skills, resiliency, and an openness to innovation.

Her advice to current students is to include community service on their LinkedIn profiles, including descriptions of their role and the impact of that group in the community.

“Choose courage over comfort,” she said. “Make community service a priority, strive to get more out of the experience than you put in.”

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